Evolutionary game theory and the normative theory of institutional design: Binmore and behavioral economics

In this article, I critically respond to Herbert Gintis's criticisms of the behavioral-economic foundations of Ken Binmore's game-theoretic theory of justice. Gintis, I argue, fails to take full account of the normative requirements Binmore sets for his account, and also ignores what I call the ‘scale-relativity’ considerations built into Binmore's approach to modeling human evolution. Paul Seabright's criticism of Binmore, I note, repeats these oversights. In the course of answering Gintis's and Seabright's objections, I clarify and extend Binmore's theory in a number of respects, integrating it with Kim Sterelny's and Don Ross's recent (respective) work on the evolution of people as cultural entities. The account also yields a novel basis for choosing between socialism (broadly conceived) and what Binmore calls ‘whiggery’ as normative political programs. Key Words: theory of justice • bargaining theory • evolutionary game theory • human evolution • Ken Binmore • Herbert Gintis • Kim Sterelny.
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DOI 10.1177/1470594X06060619
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